Will Empire strike back?

Women also have to be careful that their actions are going to hurt someone, it can ruin somebody’s career, it can ruin their family life!

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Me Too

 

Empire Strikes back was a 1980 sci-fi movie which was a big hit! In the movie, an existing strong entity pulls up its socks, reorganizes and strikes back at the conquerors! We have a history of Patriarchal society where male domination has been the norm. “Me Too” has already threatened this dominance and maybe the women are becoming conquerors.

In Mahabharata, there is the classic episode of Draupadi Vastraharan, disrobing of Draupadi by Kauravas after Yudhishthir lost the game of dice, in which he had staked Draupadi! It’s a complex story, many things that were done and not done, said or remained unsaid, were justified by traditions, dharma and beliefs of those times. To me, all these stories and situations are Metaphors which imply a subtle meaning which is explained as a story. The worst of the incident is that Karna called Draupadi a whore. In those times, a man could have more than one wife but a woman could not have more than one husband. Has this changed in 2018? Draupadi was the epitome of a strong woman. While she was being dragged to the hall, Karna told Vikarna, the only person opposing this act, that the whore has no rights, she can be dragged in the hall even if she is naked! That is what the Dharma of those days said. When she was finally dragged by Dushasana, she was going for a bath and had a skimpy cloth around her body. Her period had started and the cloth was slightly smeared with blood. She resisted but did not cry. Krishna provided her with the supply of unlimited saris; this is explained as a miracle. Do you understand what I am trying to say? It took a miracle to save a strong woman like Draupadi! Why am I going into so many details? The subject of Me Too is not going away from my mind. I am very much agitated hence I am writing one more blog on the same subject within the last 4/5 days!

Many males and a few females have said nasty things about the affected women from “Me Too”. Why did they not slap the male? Why were they afraid? Does this mean that the ladies wanted to offer their bodies? Come on friends, in this world how many strong persons are there? Both male and female? A very small percentage has strong character. We have prostitutes and slaves for thousands of years. Slaves were both male and female. Nobody loves to live as a slave. But their weakness pushes them into this life. Our societies psyche has become such that males are always allowed to dominate females. I agree that if Draupadi were meek then Mahabharata would not have happened! She is the one who first resisted Kauravas, verbally and morally. Krishna did the rest! On the other side in the Nirbhaya case, even though the lady wanted to fight back, her boyfriend was with her; but males involved were so brutal and inhuman that they did what they did right in the middle of our capital city Delhi! That is the male Empire I am talking about! This empire theory is so much ingrained in us that we assume that it is the right of Males to do what they want, the way they want!

A commentator, Vinita Nangia said in her article on the subject, “Me Too” is breakpoint that women badly needed! To me, Point of Inflexion is a term which also fits perfectly. The point of inflexion or the Ecological threshold is the point at which a relatively small change or disturbance in external conditions, causes a rapid change in an ecosystem.  Crossing an ecological threshold often leads to a rapid change of ecosystem equilibrium. The small change or disturbance is that, a few ladies have started a movement of coming out openly to tell the world, how they were asked for sexual favours against the jobs they were trying to perform. This has started in a small way but is expected to create a typhoon over a period as many women are expected to openly talk about their difficulties. Now that the “Me Too” movement has started in a small way and it will grow in slowly and there will be no going back!

My main point of discussion is, will the “Male Empire strike back”? If so, how will they do it? After trying to do what they want, where they want and when they want, has been  going on from Draupadi’s time! Men are not going to give up so easily, their “benefits”. Will there be a thought process not to employ women, if the job description requires them to travel with males? This cyclone or this war is going to be messy, to say the least. In this war, some innocents will get hit on both sides. It may hit both guilty and not guilty! Don’t forget that in every new incident that comes in open, there are at least two families that are also going to get hurt badly! In management term or real battle terms, it has got a fancy name, Collateral Damage!

My point is that there have been flirtations, there have been illicit affairs. These must be differentiated from predatory acts. In the workplace, men’s libido comes in the way of right and just things. How will “Me Too” help? Will it make men understand that when a woman says no, it means NO! Women also have to be careful that their actions are going to hurt someone, it can ruin somebody’s career, it can ruin their family life! Ladies should clearly differentiate between breakup of illicit affair and predatory attack. Converting breakup in affair into a “Me Too” event will give set back to this revolution! This is not a battle but it is a protest, an uprising! I am not sure if current laws are good enough to make discretion between flirtations/illicit affairs and predatory attack!

Why am I asking the rhetorical question, Will Empire Strike Back? It is simply because as per my understanding, this phenomenon is city based; I shudder to think of what is still happening in smaller places and villages. If parents can kill their daughters for family honour, who is going to bother about predatory pouching? In small towns and villages, we hear of ladies being stripped and paraded in villages, on some minor issues. So, if we are under an impression that the Empire will be weakened, then we are under a great misconception. In future too, the boys and girls will keep on migrating to cities from villages and towns! There will be non-stop supply “cultured” males and girls who “expect” predatory behaviour from men, because that is what they have seen all their lives! These poor girls are then easy prey to city-bred chauvinist males! What you want is free sex; sophistication will not be a pre-condition! It has been our tradition right from Draupadi’s times, is it not!

Mythology has  been the base of our traditions which we follow as if its a gospel. When Arjuna “won” Draupadi in Swayamwara, all five brothers came home with Draupadi. Kunti thought that they have come back  with the alms that they used to collect everyday. She said, “Share the alms, all five of you!” Kunti’s words became the God’s truth and lo, the brothers decided to “share” Draupadi! After all she was just a thing, just an item, she was a woman! Even Kunti, a woman, also did not feel that she should take her words back! How can you go against your mothers words? After all Kunti had been the harbinger of non traditional things in the family! She had given birth to Karna before marriage!

I fear that unless “Me Too” spreads to small places and villages, the situation is not going to change as much as we think it will! After all, no woman openly talks about forced sex (which may not amount to rape), their periods and such things. City-bred, confident girls with family support will do it! Empire need not strike back, it has sown the seeds of suppressing women, thousands of years back. Now the “real fruits” have become low hanging fruits for them. They will simply become discreet and will learn techniques to know which girl is going to keep her mouth shut, for ever!

Roaming around in Pune!

Pune has already become cosmopolitan, with new International airport and Metro coming up, will same old Pune exist at all?

It’s good to be moving around your own city but with age and technology, there is a possibility that you may not be required to move out of your home, especially after retirement. You can get your grocery online, you can pay your bills online, for cash you can go to ATM and deal with a machine rather than a human. All these things look sexy initially. But humans are social animals, and they love to meet and talk to friends, relatives, acquaintances, and unknown people. It is a well-proven fact that if humans become isolated then there is a good chance of early death. It’s good to know what new things are happening around you. When you move around, you observe different aspects of life. You know where the world is going.

Kasaba

The other day, we went to a dentist in the old part of Pune. We took an Uber and lo, we reached there in about 25 minutes, which was 15 minutes earlier than expected, and 30 minutes before the appointment. That too during peak hours! As I have always said that I tend towards being an atheist, but once in a while I do visit Mandirs on my own. I suggested to Jaya, that since we were pretty early, we could visit the Kasaba Peth Ganapati Mandir which was bang opposite the clinic. It was surprisingly empty. After going inside, we realized that it was Chaturthi, an auspicious day from the Hindu calendar. I bowed to the God, Jaya did some more prayers and took another five minutes. As is usually done, we sat in the Mandir for five more minutes. When you go to a Mandir, and do not have even five minutes to spare, might as well not go there! This is done  to soak in the atmosphere. The Mandir is a totally different world than that I live in. People were very much engrossed in praying; a priest was giving a sermon and he was talking about day to day issues, how to handle them and how to face the world. I thought it was a very good way of helping people. The priests are revered by the society; his sermon was a good way of guiding people as a tradition. This is one tradition, people should continue to follow, instead of following some irrational things. The young dentist is my daughter’s classmate and I know him well. He jokingly said, “Uncle HE must have been happy that you found time to meet Him!” To me, HE is everywhere, I need not go to a Mandir to meet Him.

Use of Uber brings you in touch with more people, a group of drivers, the way they talk, the way they work, the way they look at the profession. I always make it a point to chat with them. One observation is that 50% of them are from Vidarbha, Marathwada side! In recent four trips, I had varied experiences. One chap was very unfriendly from the beginning, and ended up shouting at me and threatening me with dire consequences! In a huff, luckily, he cancelled the trip on his own. I complained to Uber and they took a lot of feedback from me. Next one was a good person, was shocked how expensive Pune was and did not know much about Pune roads! When will Uber train these drivers about the city where they drive? I explained to this fellow that Pune is expensive because it has money and since it has money, a lot of people use Uber! Next one had his car in horrible condition, dusty and unclean from both inside and outside. I asked him why he had not cleaned the car? He said that he got the trip immediately after login. I asked him why he did not login after the car was cleaned, he had nothing to say. The last one was the best, he knew all the roads, his car looked new. When I asked him if his car was new, he said that it was two-year-old but cleaned it at least four to five times in a day. It showed his passion to do well in his profession! On top of that, he was very polite! I gave him five stars!

GoodLuck

In Pune and Bombay, there is a tradition of Irani restaurants. These are the restaurants run by people who have come to India from Iran and have settled in the last century. These were our favourite joints in our school and college days. They would offer, Bun-Maska (butter), Pastries and Omelet. Chicken and mutton also used to be their speciality if you wanted to take lunch or dinner. I was coming home in the very clean Uber and could look around for a change, as I was not driving. We passed by an Irani restaurant called Regal! I now came to know how the times have changed. They had a display board saying special treat for people who keep fast for 9 days during the Navratri festival that is currently going on! (We always have some festival running or coming or just finished celebrating) Sabudana Wada, Sabudana Khichadi and so on. Typical Maharashtrian dishes. Goodluck is the most famous Irani restaurant in Pune. Looks like to grow their business, they are also offering stuff that people want. So happy to see the flexibility of the management. Another thing that I have seen these days is that these are small restaurants and are at prime locations. With traffic density soaring all the time, their prime locations have become no parking zones. Some of these hotels have bought a couple of shops near the restaurant so that they could provide parking space to at least 20 to 30 bikes, inside those shops!

Another great tradition that is going great guns in Pune, is cultural programs during the Ganapati Festival. Many colonies, apartments, condos have different programs on various days of this festival. In our Condo, there were cookery competitions, painting competitions. Youngest was my grand-daughter Rhea who gave a three-minute solo dance performance. Oldest was a 75 years old lady who took part in story-telling. Jaya and I also had fun. I interviewed her on the subject of modern technologies of IOT, AI, VR and AR. (These buzzwords were explained in the language all will understand) It was done in a chat format and we explained the technical things in such a way that common people could also easily understand the subject. We also kept it interactive and people asked a lot of questions! This is one tradition that should never be allowed to die! This brings people together, the main aim of Lokmanya Tilak who started this festival more than 100 years back. During this festival, people go to each other’s homes, sometimes uninvited, and attend the Ganapati Aarti (Prayers) which are performed in each home!

We keep on making a big noise about traffic chaos in any city. Pune is no exception. But my personal opinion is that Pune’s traffic is still manageable. But the indiscipline is rampant by the two-wheelers, trucks and buses. They break signals, bikes carry 3 or 4 people in place of allowed 2! They break helmet rule with vengeance! In most other cities this rule is followed quite well! They enter wrongly on a one-way street! But real information that you get is from Uber guys, three-wheeler auto chaps break the rules similarly to two-wheeler guys, so I don’t take their feedback seriously. There are surprises. The first thing we assume is that the traffic will be worst in the old part of the city. These are called Peths! The roads are narrow and winding, sometimes. But according to Uber guys, these areas are much better, traffic wise. According to them, the worst is Sinhgad Road and Nagar road. Hinjewadi IT park area is known for these issues simply because of the sheer volume  of vehicles which pour on the road, within a short span of time. Attempts are being made to correct this situation. But mind you, good things always come out in humans, when things go out of control. Nagar road traffic volume has been high and indiscipline has added to it. A group of people in that area created a WhatsApp group. (A creative way of using WA) At a very short notice volunteers from this group jump the fray and help the traffic to smoothen out. What they have done is to include some shopkeepers in that area who can easily see if there is a jam. They give precise location on WA and in a jiffy these guys, wardens working Pro Bono, come out and straighten things out.

Friends, I moved to Pune in 1967 and stayed over. In these 51 years, it has changed a lot but has remained same too! Change is because of technology and migration. Pune has already become cosmopolitan, with new International airport and Metro coming up, will same old  Pune exist at all? Maybe! In some pockets, it will remain the same good old Pune but in other areas, you may feel as if you are in any modern city! Will it be able to keep balance of both? Yes and no! Chitale’s of Pune have finally started advertising and with no breaks between 1 & 4 in the afternoon! Bhelpuri carts, now have to compete with Bhel Puri shops which sell other things like sandwiches and Ragda Pattice too! Puneri Misal is still famous so is sabudana khichadi (now sold even by Irani restaurants!) Only time will tell!

Human facets!

You may be postponing that one call, that one message, that one tinkle. Then you get used to it!

One of the meanings of the word facet is one side of something many-sided, especially of a cut gem. Whenever I think about the human mind and body, I always find new facets in different persons and even in the same person. These facets are after all are HIS creations. Human facets make a fascinating study. Recently, I heard an old song titli udi from the Hindi movie Suraj (1966) . I had never heard this song for its meaning but when I read the lyrics, I found them fascinating. I interpreted the song my way.

The word Titli in Hindi means Butterfly. The butterfly comes near a beautiful flower and the flower whispers, “please come to me for the nectar”! The butterfly says, “I am flying up in the sky! Beyond the clouds, there are flowers which to you are stars! I want to go beyond everything and reach them, as I want to cross the limits of what I can do. There will be none to tell me you do this and you do that because there will be no boundaries and limits!” The flower says, “Don’t go beyond because you will be waiting and waiting till infinity for your desires to be fulfilled.” The butterfly says, “Only when I spread my wings and go beyond, I will meet my Prince charming”! When butterfly flew beyond, she met new people and found her new persona! She met her Prince charming and love of her life! Wow! Such a simple song but such a deep meaning.

While listening to the song,  a kaleidoscope of different human facets came in mind. I went into a trance and started wondering about how this happens. The song reminded me of someone who was always passionate about doing things and always wanted to cross the limits that all of us face. Recently I read about a naval officer who wanted to circumnavigate the earth, alone, in a boat. He almost did it but for an accident. He got hurt in the accident and it took three days to pick him up. But he held on. I am sure once he overcomes his health issues, he will again attempt the same thing. Testing limits of own endurance both physically and mentally is  a facet of human beings, that I admire the most.

Knowing others is a trait which only humans have. Some people have the ability to get along with new people very quickly. I know someone who used to go on first name basis in the first meeting itself when calling each other by the first name was not so popular. He had a knack of doing it, he had that charm! But at the same time, he had the ability to keep the same affinity with people with whom he would lose touch due to circumstances. I once asked him how he did it? He said, “Pramod, look at any relationship. It may be love, it may be friendship, it may be a business relationship. Getting into a relationship is very simple but keeping it going is hard. You need to cultivate any and every relationship. Unless this is done, falling out of a relationship is quite simple. You just fall out. But that’s the hardest. I simply cannot handle falling out, so I would rather cultivate and keep the relationships going. In love, you have your moments like the butterfly had its moments, only the sky was her limit; two persons are the closest in this relationship!  In friendship, the relationship simply cannot be explained. In a business relationship, you have many good and bad memories of successful and failed projects. Falling out in a business relationship can affect your professional work too! He said, “Pramod, mind you. No matter how much you convince yourself otherwise, reciprocation is important. Without it, the relationship simply dies. You may be postponing that one call, that one message, that one tinkle. Then you get used to not communicating. But mind you, falling out of the relationship is the toughest!”

Another facet that I simply admire is the valour. We have read so many stories of going into battles with knowledge of sure death! We have all read of late Vikram Batra during Kargil war. He and his team had a target and he achieved it, though it was a very tough task and death was almost imminent. It is difficult to imagine such an act from a 22-year old officer. What drives these men? What must be going on in their mind at that juncture? I am sure these are not reckless men but men with a specific aim and great love for their motherland! We all of us know the story of Shelar mama in the battle of Sinhgad fort near Pune. When the going was adverse, he simply cut the ropes which were used to climb the Sinhgad fort, which is on a hill. He told his soldiers that they can’t go back and that one action brought out the courage in them and they won the battle. Baji Prabhu Deshpande, Shivaji’s general had promised Shivaji that he would make sure that Shivaji reached his destination safely. Till that time, he and his soldiers kept on fighting the moguls. When they heard the signal of Shivaji’s safe arrival, he plunged into the final battle and died.

I have talked of good aspects of humans but there are equally bad facets in humans. The Sabarimala case and “Me Too” are classic recent cases of the worst aspect of humans. What brings out superstitious side of humans, I am not sure. The Me Too is a classic case of male chauvinism where males try to throw their weight around to suppress, suffocate females and try to look for sexual benefits.

In case of Sabarimala, Supreme Court gave a ruling saying that the so-called religious tradition of not allowing the females whose menstrual cycles are active. This is because the God at Sabarimala is a bachelor and a celibate! Oh, come on! What is God? Who decides the marital status of Him? Who gave right to priests to decide this rule? Who gave them the right to decide this? This is a bad form of superstition! If these same ladies go to Ram temple, it is ok because Ram is married to Sita! Sounds logical? Says who? On one side we are talking of Industry 4.0 and in which a large number of ladies are actively involved, but on the other side we are trying to prevent 50% population from freedom! The ladies can take part in development, they can give birth to our children but they cannot enter the Mandir, what nonsense are we talking.

“Me Too” is also a similar bad facet of humans and males are creating this problem. I am not going into why this has been happening. But I see some different viewpoints expressed on the subject. A couple of ladies have a different opinion on this than the majority opinion, excepting of course those who are caught in Me Too! One is trying to shame Tanushree Datta and another one is claiming that sex in the film industry is always with consent! Wow! I did not know that the film industry was a secret branch of brothels! Have sex get a song, have sex get a role and so on. Take bribe in kind so that there are no issues with the IT department, later! Forget about your life’s balance sheet when you finally meet HIM!

Superstitions, Male chauvinism is a result of insecurities, being scared of going away from so-called traditions. In olden days, mandir’s were nearby, wearing footwear was not very common. If worn, they would be made of animal hide. So, priests must have formed the rules, no footwear. There were no concrete roads, no pucca roads so walking barefoot was manageable. The black colour is supposedly inauspicious; so, what is the logic that Ayyappa bhakts must wear black clothes! We are a tropical country, the people who go there to pay their obeisance are not professional climbers or trekkers. The black dress would add to their difficulties with heat and humidity! Oh, but this is the tradition and the bachelor God said that all must wear black!

I can go on and on but I will write more at a later stage! There are so many human traits some good and some bad. It’s really a fascinating aspect of our lives. I will slowly delve in them. CIAO!

The Other side of the coin!

In life, some are takers and some are givers. It is our choice what we want to become! I would rather be a giver!

The other day, Jaya and I went to see an exhibition called देणे समाजाचे! The exhibition was organized by Veena Gokhale in memory of her late husband Dilip, who wanted to do such activity. This was an exhibition of various products made and services provided by organizations run for the downtrodden, by people like you and me! Maybe I used a wrong word! Most of “You and me” don’t do these things. The people who run these organizations are driven by some secret energy to help people who need help. What I observed was that more than 50% of such organizations were from Marathwada and Vidarbha region. Some have been running for around 25 years! These were formed after the horrible earthquake with epicentre at a place called Killari. Around ten thousand people died in this earthquake.

The earthquake hit the region at 3.54 am, when most were asleep, on 30th September 1993 and its intensity was 6.2. It was a major earthquake but the intensity was not so large to kill ten thousand people. The region has been known for its poverty and people lived there, at least in those times, in houses which were made by keeping stones on top of each other, with no cementing material. The earthquake shook these homes and people were crushed under the stones. A lot of people and material was rushed to that area to rehabilitate people. Though this was a commendable effort, dead don’t come back, ever. Last week I saw a picture of a woman who is now a teacher in a school in that area. She was caught under the debris as a child during the earthquake and was saved by a valiant army officer. The army officer went to look for the child and met the lady! What a reunion it must have been! These types of human stories make it worthwhile to be in this world.

Along with army officers and jawans, there have been many such volunteers who did the yeomen service to the cause. These large-hearted people took up cudgels to bring back the lives of affected people to normal! These people have given long-term commitment and devote a lot of time to continue doing this work. I have given an example of Killari but let me assure you all other people, organizations are equally committed and devoted to whatever cause they have taken up. It is not only rehabilitation of broken homes, in the long term they are all running schools, creating artisans, sometimes using technology and other times using common sense. They are helping people to stand on their feet. It was heartening to meet a student who came out of this “university’ of social work and giving back to his alma mater; he works as their Pune office, besides his regular job, and takes care of various things. I also met an engineering graduate from my alma mater COEP, who has also joined one of the organizations as an advisor! He gives about a week every month for this work!

What drives these people to take up such work as a lifetime commitment? Are they born in a different world? Are they people with a lot of money? No, I don’t think so. Each person looks at the same issue from a different angle. It is like the Elephant and five blind men. People look at issues from the lens of their own experiences in life. Some just dive in to help people, you and me sometimes donate, but in most cases we only give lip service!

Here is another angle to look at the world in a different way, it is the other side of the same coin. There are doctors, engineers, architects and many such professionals who have taken up different kind of giving it back to society. They are highly accomplished professionals and have acquired tremendous knowledge, skill sets. Should giving back to the society be done only for the benefit of the downtrodden? Should it be only for those who have nothing in life? If these highly accomplished people keep their knowledge to themselves it does not help anyone. I have seen people giving back to society in their own way. I sincerely hope that this movement also catches up. This is going to give a great satisfaction to the professionals who are helping others. This is going to help the person/organization which is taking advise from these people. In the end, with this movement, India will move forward on the world technology map and in the value chain.

A classmate of mine, Veerendra,  comes every winter to India and shares his knowledge by teaching people here about his knowledge in super computing area. Supercomputers are the name of the game in future, as new technology is coming in very fast. New technology is getting ready for day to day use. But all this needs people from their respective fields to use this technology. The people maybe from science, arts, engineering, medical fields. There are a couple of ways of doing it; one can charge fees or one can do it, Pro Bono!

For various reasons, different professionals are giving this type of service. Sathya Saibaba Institute has been a leading organization giving great service. World-renowned doctors from all over the world come there for between 2 to 4 weeks, offer their services. Mind you these are not the Indian diaspora but there are many renowned experts of different caste and creed, who take part in this program. They come here at their own cost and perform diagnostics and surgeries free of cost. This is simply because of their love and respect for Sathya Sai Baba. People are blessed to get services of the world’s professionals.

World’s best-known philanthropist, Bill Gates and his Wife Melinda have set an example to all of us. Besides donating billions of dollars for the betterment of humanity, they also use their project management expertise to ensure that whatever projects are taken up, reach a proper conclusion. Many times, it so happens that some good projects are started but many times they fail due to corruption and lack of management expertise.

Near home, Jaya has taken up sharing of information about modern technology like IOT, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual reality with everybody! Her theme is that general people also should know what to expect because these things are going to come anyway. Another important angle is that,  she is suggesting to professionals, that this new technology is to be developed not by computer people but by Mechanical and Civil Engineers, Architects, Artists or whoever has good subject knowledge about their field of expertise. Computers and computer people are tools and service providers. My dear friend Nayan, has been teaching English to non English speaking immigrants who arrive in the United States. He has been doing it for many many years. He was honored by the President of USA for his meritorious service!

Friends, one the best way of feeling enchanted, feeling happy is to give! Some give money, some give clothes, some give time and some share their valuable knowledge and expertise. In life, some are takers and some are givers. It is our choice what we want to become! I would rather be a giver! How this can be achieved? We need to find our own path.

Me too, three or four…

Animals eat only when they are hungry they do sex only when it is their mating season and that too when both want it, always with consent! Let us be animals!

I had written a blog on the subject of “Me too!” on 13th March but I am compelled write one more, as skeletons are tumbling very fast out of the cupboard!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/03/13/me-too/

Thoughts kept on coming in mind why this is happening? This movement finally and fortunately has reached our shores and I seriously hope it hits India like a typhoon! What the hell is wrong with men? Who the hell do they think they are? What is wrong with this set of people? Just because you are running a show, you are running an organization, you are producing a movie does it give you power to demand “favours” from ladies? The first question the chauvinists ask is why these ladies kept shut? Why did they not say anything for 10 years? I think for murders, there are no statutes or time barring! Murder case can be opened up whenever evidence is found. Similarly, there should be no statutes for sexual favour cases.

When these events happen, first and the foremost reaction of the lady is to hide her face, ensure that nobody knows about it. She assumes that if they talk of “casting couch” (it could be an office sofa or a hotel bedroom too!) others in the society will blame her as if it is her fault, some may say that it because the way she dresses, some may say, without shame, “chalu ladki hai”! So, this was bound to happen at some time. Why such things are called casting couch? Why not a rape? What is the difference between the two events? Or does rape mean sexual intercourse under physical force? When a woman is touched or looked at in a manner which is uncomfortable to her, it should be rape. These events can become difficult to prove in the court of law, but methods must be found how to handle these events and how the perpetrators can be punished!

As we all know, only the women have the ability to bear children. Hence, they are afraid from olden times of these events that could lead to pregnancy! So, they are brought up in such a way to avoid situations leading to an “attack”! Every time, it may not be a vicious bodily attack, but such attacks are vicious on their psyche. Tanushree Datta finally found the courage to say that Nana Patekar “attacked’ her ten years back. The expected reactions started pouring in! Nana, of course, rejected it outright. Sent a legal notice to Tanushree. Industry veterans were split on the basis of sex. Most of the ladies, including leading ladies, said the right things ! Our Bollywood icon, superhero, big daddy Mr Amitabh Bacchan’s statement was the most touching one. When he was asked his opinion about the incident, he said, “My name is neither Tanushree nor Patekar! How can I comment?” So apt, so heart touching! With such leaders to support wholeheartedly, the industry does not need enemies! Mr Bhacchan could have easily said that if the incident has taken place, then it is deplorable or some such thing! But business comes first! What if he and Nana have a film together? His chances of doing a film with Tanushree are remote! Shakti Kapoor made some stupid statement on the issue but you don’t have any better expectations from him.

When rapes are being discussed there is always a discussion done that Adivasis live in jungles, they hardly wear any clothes but we don’t hear about cases of rape. How is that happening? I think that when all of us were Adivasis wearing a loincloth, thousands of years back, nudity was not a big deal! Later on things started changing, ownership concepts came in, then couples started staying together, then marriages became the norm. Now again live in has become fashionable is a different issue. Society became more advanced, developed and started dressing conservatively hiding nudity. With this came the concepts of voyeurism and so on. Woman’s body again became an item to be owned or to be robbed, if required. Along with changes in civilization, writing and written words, printing developed. Poets and writers started writing poems and praising woman’s body with special focus on breasts and buttocks! (When porn industry started is difficult to say.) Now, these body part were exposed only in real privacy! This led to sadists raping even the kids or very old women and others created “casting couch”!

There are laws, rules and norms in the civilized world. These prevent perverts from uncivilized actions. But there is a small % of people who are the worst of the beasts! Some are wild and most are not so wild. The horrible case of Nirbhaya, in Delhi created shock waves in our nation and the world over. Stronger laws were made but it appears that those are not enough. It looks like they are still not as useful as the time taken by legal process is too long. Now, these casting couch types of cases are coming out because finally, the ladies have started becoming bold. We need to have a set of rules and laws or need to create a framework and take them through the fast track route. The police need to be trained to handle these cases, and know the difference in rapes and such cases. There are no black and white colours in such situations, they are mostly grey of different shades.

I read about Chetan Bhagat the author. Chetan Bhagat has publicly apologized after an unnamed woman blew the whistle on him on a WhatsApp thread on sexual harassment. The thread, which comes in the wake of a #MeToo movement in the country, has various women speaking up about the harassment they faced from various public figures. ( But it is not restricted only to public figures) In a couple of screenshots of a WhatsApp chat with Chetan Bhagat, which the woman shared, the author has written that he was trying to “woo” her. The woman, clearly uncomfortable, indicated her disinterest and pointed out that he was married. In his Facebook message posted yesterday, Chetan Bhagat admitted that he indeed had such a conversation and apologized to the woman as well as his wife Anusha Bhagat. He also wrote that he was writing the message after discussing the matter with his wife. He said,” The screenshots, are of course real, and I am sorry if you felt they were wrong I hope you will accept my apology.”

This my friends is a tricky situation and there can be many such situations. He has publicly accepted his error of judgment, there was nothing physical in the act. He seemed to be attracted to her persona. But on rebuff from the lady, he immediately stepped back. (Of course he did not report this to his wife, when this happened a few years back)  He has publicly apologized and if the lady accepts his version or even if she does not accept his version, how this case should be handled? Physical attraction between males and females is nothing new and it has been crossing the marriage boundaries quite often. If both are consenting adults, how to treat such scenarios? Till last month adultery was an offense where the male could be arrested but now it is not so! In the situation like that of Chetan Bhagat what to do? He has not even crossed the so-called boundary in the relationship.

In today’s scenario, where millions of males and females are working together, such situations are going to be there. I am giving you my impulsive opinion but I have not given a deep thought. To me, if a person in authority, it could be male or female, takes advantage of the position and expects to get the sexual benefit as a Quid, Pro, Quo then it is wrong. But if they are colleagues and they enter into a consenting relationship with or without sexual intercourse, it should be treated otherwise. Yes, some conflict of interest situations may come up but the relationship should not start as Quid, Pro, Quo arrangement.

Taking disadvantage of ones position to gain sexual favours has been an old virus which was always active. Only thing is that its reporting was not there out of fear or desperation. Let this movement of reporting spread like wild fire! Let the skeletons tumble out of the cupboards, let the masks be torn! It is the responsibility of the modern society to correct the wrong, that has put us all to shame the way we have treated our women folk. It is easy to do it! If we all remember a simple a truth that each human has come out of the womb of a mother, as a result of sexual intercourse. When done with consent, this activity is the nature’s gift to the human race! Let us not behave like animals! Oh, I am sorry! (Don’t always misbehave like humans) I am sure there are rules in the animal kingdom that animals always follow! Animals eat only when they are hungry,  they do sex only when it is their mating season and that too when both want it, always with consent! Let us be animals!

Loneliness & Isolation!

Expecting returns and NOT getting it, is one of the reasons, why the isolation starts!

Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt more over a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.

Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of circumstance e.g. doing a job that requires travel or relocation.

loneliness-and-isolation-quotes-2

The above picture shows a positive way of looking at life!

The above two are definitions of two feelings, that human being gets some time in life. This can happen at any age and can happen due to different reasons. There are different remedies to the same. But one thing is sure, these feelings are bad for the humans and earlier humans overcome them, is better. Though age is no bar, chances of this happening at an older age are much more. World over these two feelings are discussed together hence I am also treating them as same but one thing is well proven that these conditions lead to early deaths!

What are the reasons for Loneliness & Isolation?

Though the reasons are many, the most important being living alone, introverted personality, major long-term illness, loss of job and death of the spouse. Some of the reasons I have mentioned are a real shock, like death, to each of us but some are not able to cope.

I will try and separate them into tangible and intangible reasons. I am using this word in a slightly different way. Tangible means perceptible by touch but I am taking it as something for which there is a visible reason, like death.

  • Death of spouse, close family member or a close friend is an event which puts everyone in a state of loneliness for some time. Many of us overcome these shocks within a reasonable period of time but some people take much longer or they need medical or psychiatric treatment. This could be because such people are
    • Born that way, introverts
    • Don’t have close family ties or ties with friends
    • Live away from the family
  • Living alone for various reasons can be is another thing that creates loneliness within us. This can be because of loss of the spouse, a job change resulting in other family members living elsewhere.
  • Some are introverts by nature and find it difficult to meet new people. So, when the people whom you meet regularly, go away from your life, things can become difficult. Some people have a feeling that they don’t belong! They also feel a lack of purpose or meaning in life.
  • Poor physical health, frailty, mobility issues are some of the issues that can lead to the feeling of loneliness. Long-term illnesses and treatment make you feel that you are alone in this world. I was treated for cancer in 2013 end. My treatment went on for three months and rehabilitation was another three months. Luckily my own and my family’s positiveness helped me. In such situations having a reasonably comfortable financial situation is also helpful.
  • Some people have a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. This is an illness of the mind. It creates a situation such that there is a fear of rejection from others or feelings of being “different” or stigmatized by society. What happens in such cases is that others in the society do not know how to react to such persons.
  • Inability to participate in activities due to access issues, mobility, illness, transport. This really is an issue which can be easily resolved but you need to take support from people if required. During one of our alumni get together, one of our friends who has very poor eyesight called me to say that he wanted to attend the gathering. I coordinated with one friend who lived in the same area. Our friend really enjoyed the meet!
  • Retirement from work, home relocation, starting out in a new role or community puts some people in difficulties as they are not able to cope up. These changes in life are level two events after death in the family! I know of someone who left his home in Mumbai fifteen years back and stays with his children in Pune and Bangalore. But he still cannot overcome this change simply longs for his Mumbai home.
  • Language or cultural barriers, or reduced connection with your culture of origin is one more reason. This can easily happen in India, especially for older people, when their adaptability is reduced. Living in foreign countries for six months, post-retirement can be tough because of the language issue, weather conditions like snow. People feel in Geographic isolation.
  • Feeling lost in the crowd is another mental condition that needs treatment.

How to cope up with Loneliness & Isolation?

It is very easy for others to say, you do this and you do that but persons who face the problems find it difficult to reach the solutions. Those who are born with natural positiveness, also face these difficulties but they overcome them. Another example is, we think that Public figures and stage personalities do not have stage fright. That is not true, they also have the same issues like all others but they overcome them, mask them, hide them well.

  • Connect or reconnect with friends and family: staying in contact with loved ones can prevent loneliness and isolation. If your family does not live nearby, technology can help you stay in touch. Speak to them on WhatsApp or talk on Skype video. These are free. Keep in touch with them regularly.
  • Get out and about: Regular outings for social functions, exercise, visiting friends, doing shopping, or simply going to public places can help. Don’t avoid functions either public or private. If not, take long walks in gardens where you will see many people and maybe you will like a few of them, you may want to know them.
  • Volunteer: Helping others is a great way to help yourself feel more connected. Besides that, the feeling of goodness that comes within you because you are able to help somebody boosts your happy feelings.
  • Consider getting a pet: Pets are wonderful companions and can provide comfort and support during times of stress, ill-health or isolation. They give you love without expecting any returns. Expecting returns and NOT getting it, is one of the reasons, why the isolation starts. But don’t forget one thing. There is work involved in having a dog as a pet. Their food, their walking, their poo poo collection and so many things. Then along with your visits to the doctor, Vet visits get added.
  • Get support: If loneliness and social isolation are causing you distress, you should discuss your concerns with a doctor, counsellor or a trusted person. Don’t feel shy to openly asking for support. Remember people may not know that you need help unless you tell them.
  • Focus on others needs: Focus on the needs and feelings of others, give less attention to your lonely thoughts and feelings. You can be involved in yourself all the time or you can think of others too! Interacting with others is better! Enjoy the site of different people in their own thoughts and their own moods, you can smile at strangers too!
  • Try new things: Try to do some different things but don’t expect perfection and don’t expect people to appreciate what you are doing!

Ultimately, one has to find his own solution and there is no formula for this. Attempt different methods to interact with people, you may find some givers or some takers but don’t give up if you meet only takers initially; those people may have their own problems but keep on attempting. The world is too beautiful to live alone, try and enjoy to the best of your ability with others, with or without someone’s help!

There is a saying, if you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours! In the same vein if you see someone looking lonely, forlorn, isolated go out of your way to bring that person back to normal life! Tomorrow that person could be you!

16th August 1995 to 23rd September 2018!

As each sibling forms own family, parents and other siblings are moved to the outer intersecting circle!

In my blog last week, “So long farewell, we too say Goodbye!”, I had written about how I had bid goodbye to my “home”, without realizing it. Now I am thinking of the other side of the event. Obviously, I cannot ask my parents how they felt about my moving out, as they have passed long back. I never had the strength and maturity to ask them this question. Many times, it so happens that humans, in their zest to do well in life, go ahead; follow their projected trajectory. Go out for higher education, take up jobs and do well in their life. This is the evolution of human life and that is how it is expected to happen.

But in the background, a lot of things happen, which creates an atmosphere for the progress of people. In the background, in most cases, it is the parents who take efforts to help the children to achieve what they want, create the atmosphere to reach their goals, smoothly. In some cases, parents do a lot of sacrifices too! I am not talking about what the children should give back to their parents. My views are very clear on this, children don’t have to give anything back to the parents!  It is the parent’s responsibility to make their children strong to face the world!

But in my case, it never occurred to me, what my parents must have gone through when I left home. Did they feel the vacuum? What stress they must have felt? As I was the youngest of the siblings, when I left home, my parents were the only family that remained as a unit! When I left home I was immature and later on, I became too engrossed with my college. Immediately after college, I got married. Parents were never in my thoughts even though I loved them a lot, I cared for them in my own way.

I remember a couple of incidents from those times. I used to be in the engineering college at Pune and my parents lived in Bombay. I used to go to Bombay during the holidays. My mother would be waiting for me eagerly, keeping some lovely foodstuff ready for me. My father would go to the office and send his car back home for me to spin around! Petrol tank, of course, was always full! My father was a senior police officer and a very strict one. His demeanour was that of an efficient go-getter! Once during holidays, my mother was unwell and her health deteriorated quickly by midnight. My father woke me up, I had never ever seen him so worried! I told him not to worry and with the exuberance of the youth, I spoke to the hospital and drove my parents to the hospital. After about 12 hours, my mother’s health dramatically improved. I could see the palpable relief on my father’s face. Had I not been with them at that time, I am sure my father would have easily managed everything. But I also felt that my father was relieved because I was around. It was probably emotional support that they were looking for. I went back to Pune later, forgot everything and was back in my own world! How many such incidents may have happened during those times, in my absence, is the question that comes to mind?

16th August 1995 is the date on which our son went to the USA for his further education. I remember this date for obvious reasons but there was an incident that happened on our way to Bombay. As we were reaching Bombay, something hit our car below the engine area. The car engine started making a bit of noise so I had to stop the car. We found out that a big stone had hit bracket on which the engine is mounted. Such stones are left on the roads by truck drivers when they stop their vehicles on the road for some repairs. There was no expressway during those times. We somehow were able to reach a garage which was nearby. I called a cab and reached Bombay. We had kept enough margin to reach the airport on time. Next day the family went back to Pune. I got the car repaired and the day after I took the car back to Pune.

For the next few days or months, I am not really sure, we felt the emptiness but our daughter was with us. Three of us always missed him but then the reality struck that he will be away at least for a couple of years. Slowly, we continued with our life. Two years became five; he had come back to get married in between. Then five years became ten; he moved from the east coast to west coast and this year it is 23 years since he left “home”. Of course, now he has his home, he has his own family. In between, he kept on coming back and we also went to him as and when it was possible. But the visits, both to the US and India were as visitors. Luckily, Jaya and I were quite busy in that phase so was our daughter. In the initial phase, when the social media was evolving, we used to talk on phone depending on how busy all of us were. Cell phones were in the evolution phase so we had to rely more on the landline.

During these 23 years, there was only one major health issue in the year 2013. I needed to be treated for cancer. Our son could come for a couple of weeks. I could see the unease on his face when he went back. But I look at the whole thing from a different angle. Had he been staying in Bangalore or Delhi or Timbaktu, the situation would have been the same. Once children get busy in their career and their families, the natural progression is that they get busy in their own stuff. I had mentioned in one of the blogs about intersecting circles.

Circles

Circles1The images explain this concept clearly. In the first image, the Innermost circle is the core family circle which has parents and siblings. As each sibling forms own family, parents and other siblings are moved to the outer intersecting circle. That is how the world moves, that is the name of the game, that is nature!  The second image of intersecting circles shows the complexity that can form later in life, due to the formation of new families. As the generations change, you go into a circle on the periphery.

What is the significance of the date 23rd September 2018! Our grandson completed his 12th grade and joined a University for Computer Engineering course. He moved to the dormitory! What thoughts have been going on in my son and his wife’s mind? I do not know. I am sure the thoughts will be the same as what we had. This is one training that I do not think we gave to our son. But this is very essential like all other training. This aspect of life is never taught in any course, in any college. It is learnt in the life’s school!

But there is one more angle to this scenario that we see these days. I know of a family where the mother is 90 plus and has a very serious case of dementia. Hers is an extremely difficult case to manage, and she is being nursed at home with the help of supporting staff. Her eldest son and his wife look after her. Her other younger son lives in a different country. He is also retired but they come and support the mother for a couple of months. Is it incidental? Winter is very harsh in those months in that country. Who should share such responsibilities? This is a very tricky situation and handling it is not easy. We also hear some stories about children inviting parents to their homes only when they need babysitting or some such support.

Honestly, I really do not know what the correct approach is; but to me, each one is a different case. Most of the times we hear only one sided version. It is difficult to come to any conclusion. I have heard of a story about travel by my friend. I don’t know what adjective to give to this story. Whether it is funny or horror story or a practical thing to do. They have two children staying in the US. I found that they were traveling separately on different days. The reason was two children wanted the best “monitory deal” for ticket. Does it matter that they had to travel separately? Such problems maybe faced if the parents are financially not independent!

Before India’s independence in 1947, most people hardly left their area of birth for green pastures. But with progress all around things have changed a lot. There is good Hindi word called बिरादरी; people still marry in बिरादरी! But with progress they live all over the world. Material progress and progress in our thought process need to go hand in hand. Once that is achieved, it hardly matters. To me the circles below are the true representations of today’s times. Or is it the first first image? I am confused!

Circles3